Is chivalry sexist?

Well according to one group of feminist scientists it is!? In today’s The Telegraph online this article explains how a group of women researchers from the ‘Feminist society for the Psychology of Women’ studied ‘sexist and non-sexist incidents’ in America and Germany and reached the conclusion that chivalry is benevolent sexism…

I don’t want to get opinionated here but I am female so I do have my own take on this study and to be honest I think the whole thing is nonsense!So, yes this will get opinionated… Putting aside the actual study and it’s results and conclusions for a moment, I was actually quite annoyed reading this article (as a scientist, female and student) that once again money has been ploughed in to a study of something that has little use, value or contribution to ‘anything’ in modern society! Who are these people who keep giving money for pathetic studies such as this and other silly things such as ‘Sword swallowing and it’s side-effects‘? (Apologies to the authors of these studies but seriously there are far more important things to worry about in the world than whether holding a door open for a woman is sexist or not and what the side-effects of sword swallowing are!? I’m sure you’ll all agree???)

Ok, so back to the article. The article states that according to the study things such as ‘helping a woman choose the right computer’ and ‘offering to do the driving on a long distance journey’ are ‘benevolent sexism’ – hang on a minute, damn my other half must be a right sexist pig if this is the case! For starters, I wouldn’t dream of buying a computer without his help, he is a computer network engineer after all – maybe if he wasn’t I may not take his help, I may know more than him about what I need, but just by offering to help these researchers would burn him at the stake of sexism!  hmmm And as for ‘offering to drive on a long distance journey’ – if I were a long-distance driver then maybe I may not want this, but actually I’m pretty crap at driving for long distances and he knows this so if he didn’t offer I am more likely to be offended than if he did.

Jeez, does all this just mean that I’m a promoter of sexism? I like to think of myself as equality and fairness minded!

Then there’s referring to a group of men and women as ‘guys’ – ohh bugger I do this all the time, I’m sexist against women myself – pah!

'Hold the door love - feminst coming through' source: blogsoftheworld

So ‘chivalrous’ behaviour is ‘benevolent sexism’… lets examine these words…

Chivalry/Chivalrous‘ – definitions: courtesy towards women/Characterized by consideration and courtesy, especially toward women (obviously ‘historical’ in origin and relating to the qualities of a knight)

Benevolent/Sexism – (the two do not come with a combined definition) individual definitions: Characterized by or suggestive of doing good/Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women.

Okay, so let me get this right in other words ‘courtesy towards women’ is ‘doing good, discrimination’ – surely that alone is a contradiction of terms? This whole study has to be some kind of joke right?

But then the authors of the original article about the research (in the Psychology of Women Quarterly – feminist and scientific journal) claim that both men and women are to blame for encouraging and endorsing such ‘sexist’ behaviour, thus we all reinforce ‘inequality and injustice’ – well if this is sexism then I for one won’t be putting in any effort to stamp it out!

Offering to help another person (regardless of gender, or any other ‘difference’ for that matter!) should never be considered inappropriate or ‘wrong’ – let alone sexist or in any other way ‘discriminatory’ or we will become a society of arrogant, rude individuals who only think of our selves.

I say ‘long live chivalry’ and women can be chivalrous too, how’s that for sexist!? I’ll remember this next time I hold a door open for a guy laiden with shopping bags… they’ll probably belong to his ‘little lady’ walking six paces behind him like she should! (joke!!) 😛

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only and in no way relate to any person’s living or dead, or represent the views of any organisation


47 comments on “Is chivalry sexist?

  1. Did you read the study itself? Or simply the newspaper article, written by a journalist with a non-scientific background who is just looking for a story? I mean, he said ‘feminists’ rather than scientists!!!

    I haven’t read it but I believe the research is valuable as it vocalises a number of women who do feel patronised by certain behaviour which men conceptualise as chivalrous. What is important here is context. If a woman who worked in IT yet was approached, on the basis of her gender, to see if she required help in finding a computer, clearly that’s patronising and sexist. If a long trip lay ahead and a man innocuously offered to share the load is perhaps not sexist.

    As a sociologist, I’ve research chivalry and my finding was that women were more likely to perform such acts than men were anyway. Helping another person should be nothing to do with gender, and men should not feel obliged to help a woman just because of chivalry- it’s hardly a genuine offer if it comes attached to suggested social norms and values. As such, the chivalrous suggestion that women are less capable to drive, choose a computer, pay for a meal etc IS sexist. Endorsement of such norms is sexist, whether it come from men or women.

    • Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your feedback. I have read the study available here, but the newspaper article was what drew me to it. As the researchers for the study are part of the a ‘feminist’ ‘psychology’ society, I think the terms ‘feminist’s’ or ‘psychologist’s’ would be more befitting than ‘scientists’?

      I can see how certain ‘insecure’ women might find chivalrous behaviours patronising or even offensive and sexist, but hopefully the majority of women are secure enough with their own sense of self to not feel this way!? I fully agree with your comment about the woman working in IT, but even then the offer of help from a partner/bf may be innocently intended as a ‘supportive’ gesture not related to skill/gender…

      Like you say ‘context’ is the key, but the true context of any chivalrous gesture may not always be that which we ‘assume’ it to be – a defensive/feminist woman may always construe such actions as sexist and patronising whilst the person committing the chivalry ‘crime’ may not have had any such intention other than a genuine desire to ‘help’.

      In addition to be honest I think sociologists such as yourself are far better placed to be studying such things than ‘feminist’ groups as there would hopefully be less chance of bringing in the researcher’s own ‘biased’ opinions to the study!? 🙂

    • Perhaps I meet the wrong kinds of women, but those that I have met are not at all patronized by courteous behaviour. Women who have a problem with this need to get a life. They are obviously bored and in need of something to moan about.
      I do most of the driving. It’s because my wife prefers it. I choose computers because she again prefers it. I pay for a meal again because she prefers it. We have been married for 25 years. How many feminists would even contemplate such a happily married life together let alone stay in a relationship for 3 decades?
      Feminist scientist? Is that not an oxymoron? I’d better point out as well that I am a sociologist too.

      • I don’t think a feminist would get married! If she did she would be going against her own principles – or her man would be a doormat she could mould and manipulate! I agree that ‘feminist scientist’ is an oxymoron! Looks like Sociologists are far more sensible in their ideas!! (I always knew I should have continued with Sociology when I got an A for that in GCSE compared to my B in Psychology! lol)

  2. I always open the car door for my partner, walk on the kerb side, hold her hand … and I also always walk in front of her when in a restaurant and I love the looks of indignation from others in the room … they don’t know what we know. She is Hungarian and expects her man to lead her through an unfamiliar place – that’s their tradition. I love all of this, and so does she. Not because she is weak (she’s not), or subservient (again she is most definitely not) … but because it makes her feel special and loved.

    I also hold doors open for everyone, and without a doubt there is no identikit photo fit of who does and does not acknowledge the courtesy shown towards them. There are ignorant males and females, young and old. BUT the only ones who have shown any blatant disregard or even aggression because of this simple act have been females.

    Help someone to choose a computer? … I wish there was someone to help me!

    There is something weird and Orwellian about the very concept of a ‘Feminist Society for the Psychology of Women’. The very sound of it makes my flesh creep.

    • Hi Rob,

      Thank’s for your comment! I think it is a shame that modern western society (or namely the women of the feminist society for the psychology of women) would label your actions sexist. I would be proud to have a man treat me with the level of dignity and respect that you show your partner 🙂 and shame on the women who discourteous of having a door held for them!

      Indeed, society’s such as the feminist society for the psychology of women only serve to heighten the fact that certain people still feel there is a need to distinguish themselves as ‘different’ whilst proclaiming a desire for ‘equality’ – how can we ever achieve equality when groups ‘choose’ to segregate themselves in this manner!?

  3. If you’re going to comment on an academic paper, please read it, rather than an article about it. You’ll find that the authors wanted to know if women and men would reject sexist behaviour if they were made more aware of it. They found that this is the case for women, but not so much for men. With reference to chivalrous behaviour, it was specifically unwanted chivalry: “Observed a man acting chivalrous toward a woman because he thought that women needed special attention although she said she didn’t need this special treatment (e.g., by insisting on paying for her dinner, by insisting on bringing her home) ”

    You can read the paper in full here: or here:

    Please go to the source when you make comments on academic papers, rather than rely on a journalist’s opinion that has clearly been written to invoke a reaction.

    • Thanks for your comment, I did read the original academic paper and posted a link to it in one of my comments. However, my opinion still stands that the chivalrous behaviours referred to are not sexist – and that I am entitled to my opinion as is anyone else! Even unwanted chivalry is not sexist, some men are just ‘gentlemen’ why should they be punished for this, when there are men out there who only want to use, abuse and take advantage of women? I rather think these men should be applauded for their attempts to show dignity and respect to women. You do not give your own opinion on the matter, merely accuse me of not reading the academic paper when I have previously stated that I did read it – I would be interested to here your own opinion on chivalry, seeing as this blog and discussion are about ‘opinion’ 🙂

    • I’d rather see this section of useless research closed down and the money put to cancer research. I have read enough bogus feminist research and do not want to read this as well. Some of us have to earn a living rather than go around putting out divisive arguments that try to justify their reason for existing by poisoning genuine relationships and blighting good manners.

  4. Elizabeth said “You’ll find that the authors wanted to know if women and men would reject sexist behaviour if they were made more aware of it.”

    I may be missing the point here, but if anyone is unaware of supposed sexist behaviour towards them, and they are taking it in the context in which it is given, why should anyone busybody wish to impose their own world view on them? Is somebody taking offence on someone elses’ behalf?

    It could be of course that the feminists are the one’s who are seeing something that simply isn’t there in most instances.

    When I was dating (not so very long ago) I would say to my prospective date “We can meet to eat on the condition that I pay on the 1st date. I am old fashioned like that. If you want to meet for a 2nd date then you can set the ground rules”. Not once did I get turned down … in fact it was usally quite the opposite. It probably helped that we weren’t teenagers or 20 somethings who have been tainted by the increasingly grey world we now seem to occupy, and where we have to be told what to think and why we should be offended by something that simply used to charm.

    • Indeed Rob, who decides what is and is not ‘sexist’ behaviour? surely we as individuals can make up our own minds? – what is sexist behaviour to a feminist may not be to a ‘modern’ woman (as the way I see it feminism is an outdated viewpoint, we stopped burning our bras many years ago! lol – just my opinion). That seems to be the real point behind this research – to impose a view of what is ‘sexist’ upon others and therefore encourage us to ‘reject’ this behaviour. Any ‘unwanted’ behaviour is unwanted whether it is classified sexist or chivalrous, rude or otherwise! There are far more important things to be concerned about than furthering the inequality divide between men and women by creating more men-hating, feminists! We should celebrate difference (everyone one is different, unique and special in their own way) and strive for equality in areas that matter (pay, access to education, health care etc) rather than being offended by kindness, charm, chivalry and compassion! 😀

  5. You need to be careful there displaying attitudes that only confirm outrageous common sense. Think of all the poor old psychologists* and sociologists that would be unemployed if you run around undermining womanhood in such a frivolous manner.

    Now get back to the kitchen and don’t come out again until you have learned the error of your ways young woman**


    * My brother is a clinical psychologist … I never knew I and the rest of my family were so screwed up until he’d completed his degree. Thank goodness for higher education!

    * * For those of a non-ironic disposition please look up ‘Irony’ in the OED before the twisting of any knickers begins

    • lmao, I must be an embarrassment to women everywhere being so accepting of what must clearly be ‘sexist’ behaviour towards me! hehe

      I’ve done the housework, and dinner will be on the table in time for when my ‘better’ half gets home from work! *shock horror* ;P

  6. Is Chivalry sexist?

    1. I did not read the article
    2. Contrary to what one woman tried to debate a while back, a woman cannot be chivalrous. Its a term specifically made for and intended for use to describe a man and his behavior towards others, primarily women.
    3. You skipped the historical context too quickly. The term originated in a time period when most women were still treated as property and had very little rights outside that afforded to her by her male family members.
    4. Chivalry is not simply a word associated with courtesy. It is specifically associated with courtesy towards women by men. This word is tied to the perception that women are the weaker sex and are not equals to men, therefore must be taken care of by men.
    5. Lets face it. In todays world most women are two faced on this issue. They want to be treated like equals in the work place, but when it comes to courtship, most women fall back to old gender roles.
    6. Sexism – It is a form of discrimination or devaluation based on a person’s sex, with such attitudes being based on beliefs in traditional stereotypes of gender roles. -Wikipedia
    7. Courtesy is courtesy and help is help. The issue here is what happens when its about a man helping a woman.
    8. Please help me here. Is there an equivalent word for when a woman helps a man? Do we every really use chivalrous to descrive a woman?
    9. Human beings helping other human beings, being courteous and supportive is not sexism. Men helping women because they perceive women to be the weaker sex is. The discrimination in this instance is usually to the perceived benefit of women, so most won’t complain.
    10. Human beings come in all shapes and sizes. There are all sorts of different types of men and women. There are a good number of women that are just as strong if not stronger then the average man. Yes, on average certain traits are found more often in men, but that doesn’t make these traits the exclusive domain of men and vice versa.
    11. Back to the original point. Is Chivalry sexist???
    a. Is it based on gender?
    b. Does it create an unequal balance/ perception in relationships?
    c. Have women been denied opportunities because they were perceived to be the weaker sex?
    d. Have women been afforded opportunities because they were perceived to be the weaker sex?

    Can you think of any additional questions???

    To repeat, human beings helping other human beings is always a good thing. The thing here is the perception that one of them is inherently weaker because of their gender, color, sexual orientation or whatever other discriminatory trait one can focus on. Chivalry is based on the perception of women being the weaker sex. To answer your question, yes it is. How about we all focus on being courteous to everyone, regardless of their gender or anything else???

    • Hi Ed,

      Thanks for your comment. You make some very good points and pose some very interesting questions! I don’t think there is an equivalent word for describing a woman helping a man…I agree that based purely on the perception of women being the weaker sex then chivalry would be sexist in that context, but your final point about being courteous to all regardless of gender or anything else is far more the appropriate attitude in a modern society 🙂

    • It is true that women cannot be chivalrous and if they were, men will easily become hostile because they feel emasculated and think that they are getting manipulated and taken advantage of by women.

  7. The way I was raised, a woman is called a lady when she acts in a chivalrous manner.

    And I cannot help but think that accusing chivalrous behavior of being sexist is outright stupid, considering the way women are treated in most islamic countries.

    Yeah, some people have the stupid notion in their heads that men are superior to women or viceversa, and they should look around and grow up. But instead of attacking chivalrous behavior, perhaps these “scientists” should focus on doing something worthwhile about the rights of women in islamic countries.

  8. “3. You skipped the historical context too quickly. The term originated in a time period when most women were still treated as property and had very little rights outside that afforded to her by her male family members.”


    Take another look at this “history” and see the real thing instead of the feminist interpretation and spin put on it. During the period referred too as chivalrous, high born females had astonishing priviledges and they knew it. The rest of women and low born men were just peasants without rights who could be, and frequently were, killed by the high borns, starved because nature caused the harvest to fail, or dying of disease because of filty living conditions, daily.

    High born women did not want to work that is why they kept an army of servants to do everything for them, including helping them to dress. They had access to the best education that the peasant did not enjoy. They lived in total luxury. They ate the best food. They travelled the known world under extraordinary protection provided for them by men. What is more, these traditions among the high born carried on well into the 19th century.

    Men had the rights of property because of this social contract with women. It was men who fought and died to secure the property women lived in, in that luxury. Women had the better end of the deal and they knew it. That is why the deal lasted as long as it did.

    Take the feminist spin out of history as you read it and the reasons for why things happened as they did become clear. Unbrainwash yourself!

    • Hi,

      Thanks for your comment, and wow – Ouch! Some tough love there! 😉

      It would definitely seem the ‘feminist’ spin on things, past and present, has some very controversial connotations! Personally I didn’t go into the historical context in to much detail, as after all the past is the past and depending on whose view you are reading it is painted in many different ways.

      Don’t you think the worst thing is that ‘we’ (as a society) haven’t really learnt from our past and continue to make the same mistakes in the treatment of others now, and probably always will?

  9. “Back in the days of sanity, before the Marxist Cultural Revolution (of which feminism was a vocal part) struck our shores in the dark decades of the 1960’s and 70’s, women and men had an unspoken culturally tight agreement between them, that worked for the good of all society as a whole and had done so for thousands of years. It was very simple. Women would be faithful towards the father of their children as long as he was willing to stick around and provide shelter, care and protection for them. This bargain was the glue that kept families intact. It was sealed in a solemn oath given by both parties in an old fashioned ceremony known as marriage. An institution Cameron [Prime Minister David Cameron. Ed.] claims to adore and cherish.

    Every child growing up in Western culture (and many others around the world) was taught this bargain at school and in a million other culturally driven ways. Marriage was a good thing we were all told in those days. Girls were urged to treat their virginity as precious and something to be held onto. Surrendered only to their husbands. They were warned by savvy mothers, of the tricks boys would pull to get their knickers off before marriage if they could. Not because boys were evil, but because they were being driven by powerful hormonal changes in their young bodies as they grew up. Wise mothers taught daughters how to see and repel the advances these young horny boys would make. All of this female behaviour was predicated upon the idea that this bargain was a good thing for society as a whole. This behaviour gave those young women huge power over the way procreation and relationships panned out; as well as over the men and boys they met. Far from being “slaves to the patriarchy” they were in fact, in total control of it, as well as enjoying huge self esteem because of their mature self restraint. The only way a girl could get pregnant if she kept to the bargain was if she were raped, which is why rape was viewed with such horror by society as a whole. Those who failed to restrain themselves and became pregnant out of wedlock were looked upon as failures and treated accordingly. Not out of malice, so much as out of the need for society to protect the vitally important bargain.

    Marxist-Feminists — who had sworn to destroy the family because, ideologically, they regarded it as an evil pillar of Western Capitalist society — knew they had to undermine this bargain to succeed. If they could, chaos would reign instead of order and they could move in with attractive sounding, Socialist/Statist solutions; such as, replacing the functions of the husband and father with the State itself. Effectively, marrying females to the State and using the functions of the State to provide her with all the husband and father used to provide. The State would house her. The State would provide money for essentials and the State would take care of the children while she went out to work. In this way, the age old bargain would be undermined and marriage and the traditional family would fall into disuse. To do this they would have to con the women into seeing that the new “socialist bargain” was better than the other Western Cultural bargain that had served us so well for millennia. The tactic chosen to achieve this was to make women in general hate and fear men as much as the feminists themselves did. If successful, this tactic would cause women to break the bargain and the family pillar as it was then known, would crumble.”

    These, by the way, were and are the real aims of feminism. It is not and never has been about “equality.” That is the smokescreen behind which they operate. Because women (and some men) failed to see how great this bargain between men and women was, they gave into the forces of “progressivism” and ditched it. The resulting chaos is what we see on our streets in our towns today. It was the middle class women and the ‘Islington set’ that stupidly succumbed to this rubbish because they thought they were all being so trendy and lefty and liked having pictures of Che Guevara on their walls to show it. Hey. It was the 60’s sixties and revolution was in the air. Right? In fact, the revolution was very real but the dumb kids of the 60’s who thought they knew it all, actually knew nothing about its real aims. They were told it was about “freedom” but in fact, it was about slavery. As a result they became what Marxists call “useful idiots” to be used in their never ending assault on Western democratic society and values. But, like the young everywhere, they cannot be told and would not hear a dissenting voice. This generation of young people are no different. Just as dumb. Just as ignorant. Just as convinced they are neither. The same is true of women. Most of them really do believe the hype that they can “have it all.” They fail to see that what they are ending up with is nothing but the drudgery of endless work, endless taxes, a pointless accumulation of “stuff,” damaged children sacrificed on their altar of consumerism and unhappy single lives. As they spread the feminist poison by their contempt for men (just read Women’s Magazines!) and the social contract that worked so well for millennia, so they fail to understand that not learning from the present is going to lead them into a future that is bleak indeed.

    But hey! What do I know, right? I am just a man writing.

    Look at this:

    • What a fascinating piece! Thank you so much for sharing – just because you are a man doesn’t make you wrong, even if feminist’s would like to believe that! I think what you have shared definitely puts things into clearer perspective and I for one applaud you for telling it ‘straight’, too many people hold back for fear of offending others (including probably myself at times!) There will always be those who take things personally, take offense and be outright rude without backing up their opinions with any ‘real’ facts or knowledge (ignorance is bliss eh!?) but what we really need is more people who will stand up and put out the ‘right’ information so people can ‘unbrainwash’ themselves from the media hype that informs us all so much today!

  10. I think freemycatfish has said it very nicely.
    I started off thinking years ago that feminism had a point and was right, but as I have become involved in trying to sort out social and political problems over a period of time, I have come to despise what it stands for. When you have to deal with homeless people, drug and alocohol abuse, crime victims educational fall outs and you have to sit and talk a guy out of suicide for hours who cannot understand why his wife has cleaned him out and taken his kids when he has done nothing wrong. When you get to see the effects that social breakdown has and is having on children, then what freemycatfish says above makes a great deal of sense. Feminism to me has come to mean the promotion of the hatred of maleness.

  11. J’aime vraiment votre article. J’ai essaye de trouver de nombreux en ligne et trouver le v?tre pour être la meilleure de toutes.

    Mon francais n’est pas tres bon, je suis de l’Allemagne.

    Mon blog:
    rachat credit voiture ou Rachat De Credit fonctionnaire

    • Merci pour vos commentaires! Je suis content que vous avez aimé mon article. 🙂

      Mon français aussi n’est pas bon, mon allemand n’est pas bon non plus! Je suis de l’Angleterre

  12. Pingback: What is the difference between prejudice and discrimination? « Day in the life of a Busy Gal…

  13. The raw fact of the matter is, that feminism wouldn’t survive five weeks without “chivalry” — i.e. gynocentrism. If men en masse abandoned chivalry in a serious way, the feminists would be up in arms about it. Of that you may be very, very certain.

    The feminists don’t want to do away with chivalry, only the parts of it they find annoying. After that, they will pressure men for a more refined style of servility that will cater to women’s special whims with greater precision (or “sensitivity” as they might put it).

    • Thank you for your comment – I think you are right, feminists may be up in arms about chivalry being sexist but if it stopped they would be up in arms about men showing ‘no respect’ to women! It’s a no win situation for men! :/

  14. It always comforts me to find women that are sensible and don’t buy into this feminist propaganda. Where I live, most woman are feminists. I feel like I’m going crazy.

  15. Can I add my opinionated tuppence worth on the subject of chivalry? We need to be careful we talk about this subject because we are often discussing what chivalry has become rather than what it really is.

    Chivalry today is a perversion of the original idea. originally, the idea of chivalry was NOT as a benefit to women and children alone. That is what it has become twisted into. Chivalry was a concept whereby the strong took care of the weak. That was, ANY strong would intervene on behalf of ANY weak. Gender did not come into it. Chivalry was predicated on the idea of Christian teachings about ‘loving thy neighbour’ and ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ etc. The chivalrous code of conduct was encouraged because it was hoped it would curb the abuses of the powerful in society against the powerless. Those who adopted this code gave an oath that they would protect the weak wherever they saw them being abused.

    In my view, it is a code that would should make a welcome come back today and the perversion of it that we are now living with should be kicked into touch as soon as possible. What we have now tends to make all men weak and the fall out from that idea can be seen everywhere around us.

    Just a thought.

    • Hey George,

      I agree that chivalry is a concept that should be welcomed in modern society and not linked to gender. The modern dictionary definition only serves to make it more of a sexist connotation!

      Thanks for the video 🙂 very good!

  16. I went to that post–and after my eyeballs stopped spinning from the crappy format, I got to the words–and then my head started spinning backwards.

    Not to mention guys who need to get laid…;-)

    And on that note–the guys header states:

    “Masculist, but not anti-feminist.
    Feminist, but not anti-masculist.
    In total agreement with everyone, and no-one.”

    That pretty much can be interpreted as “any doe will do.”

    You are right, they are wrong–benevolent sexism exists, and is most often pandered to by upper class academic white people. Class anxiety pandering to race anxiety pandering to sexual tension.

      • Most bloggers are bored teenagers, out of work professionals, or IT nerds who can’t get a real life.

        As for sexism–check out those threads I sent you to. They are among the hottest dialogues on the American internet about the topic.

        In an ideal world yeah, we all help each other–I open as many doors for guys as i do for girls, old ladies and kids. But there concept has nothing to do with actual sexism, and everything to do with control of first, the dialogue, and second ‘the machinery of power.’

        They split thne baby any way they see fit as long as it keeps them a job in some fun-pandering academic or government agency

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